Restart 1, July 3 – RESTART

Restart 2, July 4 2021 post..

Restart 3, July 6 2021

In October 2013 MaplePine Farm Bed and Breakfast celebrated its ‘official opening’. For many years i had been hinting that our family should have a gathering in India. In 2013 many of our family took me up on the hint, 2013 was a year that marked 50 years since my parents had come to Shillong in 1963, along with 7 children under 10 years old and my mother pregnant with me, I was born in 1964.

A little slide show below of some of the time in October 2013 with family, Brothers, Sisters, nieces, nephews and their spouses.. What a time we had, So many friends of family came out for the occasion..

Restart 1, July 3 – RESTART

Restart 2, July 4 2021 post..

Throughout the early year – 2009 – 2013 we slowly started a name for ourselves. Having operated ‘CULTURAL PURSUITS ADVENTURES’ since 1997 we set out to offer a simple get away for Travelers, a place they could stay for a few nights, either before (thus getting some advice and options for their travels), or after (a place to share their stories), their travels in other places.

We had traveled to remote parts of most of North East India in the early days of Tourism development.

Below are just a few pics of some of our first experiences, friends and guests that stayed with us and some of our own fun while building and developing

MaplePine Farm Bed and Breakfast..

Last Post, July 3 – RESTART

July 4 2021 post..

It was a cold night in the winter of 2010, that we made our first wild adventure to set up the first structure on this property.   Our Mahindra Armada, We had bought the Armada from a Catholic Bishop in Manipur, it served us well over the years we had it, in fact only weeks after we bought it in 2009, we did a 1 month trip of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland with 8 Belgium Mountain Bikers. Now it was serving us again by pulling our Kitchen on a Trailer,at night, to avoid traffic to this empty property and a village called Lynkien, in Hima Mawphlang, just a short hike of about 2 km up the hill one would find the famous: Mawphlang Sacred Forest.

Part of the whole move to starting this project was, as our family was growing, we felt the need to be based in one place. Since 1998 I would be away most of the time from Sept till April, on trips through out North East India.

This was the beginning, overnight and a Kitchen was on the property. We woke up the next morning, cold and tired; but we actually had an indoor kitchen.

Morning Walk

This was the start, an 8 month old Imryie, two older brothers my wife and I.

We spent 2 months,as we got a visions of what we wanted, and I built the first Cabin. Each morning at about 5 am, I would get up and dig a small portion of garden, just to get myself warmed up. Days would warm up by 8 am or so, and be mostly sunny. Nights were cold, but we were always warm in the tent. Baths were in the river.

Warm Up

After a good breakfast, I would work the day on the Cabin. No Electricity at that time, so all hand tools.

MaplePine Farm Bed & Breakfast

July 3rd 2021

Today we will start a journey into our short History.

It is much like starting over, so we will start from where we came from to where we are ready to go, as we anticipate a return to business.

We will start this series and continue at least every other day till we finally can host our guests again at

We start today’s post with a Blank property and will continue with the history of our place: Please support us and other businesses that have taken the full brunt of this ‘Lockdown’.

MaplePine Farm Bed and Breakfast

‘nothing to do but enjoy the outdoors’

We are a small Bed and Breakfast offering a place to get away from it all, Tranquil and quiet.  Please if you are asking about bookings and a place to stay, read about us, understand the different cabins we offer and the services we are able to offer and that which we are not able.

Travel Agents:  we ask that you not just request a place for your clients, on MP or CP basis.  We are for business and relationships and have nothing against commission.  However we need you to understand what type of place we are and to have a long term understanding with us.  Our place is not for everybody.

We ask that travel agents follow this example for bookings:  note we don’t offer commission on the first two clients you send.  Once we understand that you as a Travel agent understand us and what we are doing and send clients that would appreciate our place we offer an understanding of ongoing relationship that equals more than most give in commission, but it means we have a long term ongoing relationship.

Example: Accumulate 6 Cabin nights (Cabin nights – means number of nights in a particular priced cabin) – ie: first booking is Cabin 1 for 2 night, next 1 night in Cabin 2, next 3 nights in Cabin 1 – that is 6 nights. The seventh night booking is Free. And so on – you accumulate again.

This basically means you are committing to a long term relationship and sending clients that appreciate and understand our place. If by chance you don’t tell your clients about our place and they come, imagining all the services of a resort, then we have not accomplished our goal – as we say often: our place is not for everybody – the ones who appreciate it really appreciate it and usually come with a knowledge of the place. The ones who don’t, were likely not informed about the place.

If your first question is what is your TAC, when making a booking for the first time,  we wonder about your thoughts for a long term relationship..

An example of a request for stay –

Hi:  This is ________________, we would like to know if there is availability for our clients in one of your cabins at MaplePine Farm Bed and Breakfast.  The clients name is _______________ and he or she is aware about your place.  The number of adults will be ___, and children ages _____.

We have looked at your website and would prefer Cabin ______, if it is available – if not you could suggest which cabins are available.. As for food for the client, they will have dinner on the day they arrive and again we have seen the choices on your website and would like order a _________________.  Thanks you, and look forward to your response.

Meghalaya “Paradise” Exploited

My Personal Disillusionment with Tourism in Meghalaya

Many may look at me and think I am against the combination of doing business and the concept of Tourism.  Far from it, I believe in it, with an emphasis on sustainability and self Determination. 

I have personally been involved in the business since 1997.  Taking people to remote parts of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya mostly.  As time passed, with a growing family, the decision to settle more in one place with a Bed and Breakfast was a natural route, able to give advice to people who really wanted to travel, as well being able to do it how we as a family wished, setting the limits, the traffic and in general trying to control the type of people, in other words ‘Self Determination’.

Going out once in a while with groups or suggesting places or people to go as independent travelers becomes more and more difficult as the direction of ‘Tourism’, to me, is going to people taking advantage of the Tourist rather that looking at the long term sustainability of offering a fair service.   Seeing places that offer very little service yet wanting to charge high amounts, just because they assume the tourist is willing to pay, no matter what.  This model will sustain for a certain time, but is not the path to long term sustainability.  You will rarely get that same person who, just felt cheated, giving good word of mouth to other potential travelers.  When we talk sustainability we should be talking self-sustained promotion, where it becomes a natural growth, because people tell others.  When a Travel Agent, a Tour Company, a Government or an individual has to keep putting out advertisements, to me, it means you are not on a path to sustainability, you are on a continuous path of trying to convince the person who does not know any better to come to your place, not the traveler who took the time to learn and hear about it..  

My first example is the mushrooming of road signs from Shillong to Sohra (Cherrapunjee),(now it is starting on the Shillong Dawki Route). It all started with one Resort putting numerous signs along the road side, on rocks, on metal signs, everywhere.  Those sign that says such and such an amount of kilometers to such and such a place, over and over again as you count down to the 1 km to go.  This first example has made it so that every home stay, bed and breakfast, hotel, resort and dhaba, feels the necessity to put up bigger and better signs, as well as more and more. Making the entire route unattractive.  It says to me, that you are not in a business to attract sustainability.  

My second example is the ongoing Meghalaya Drivers associations who feel that outside vehicles should not be allowed to come with tourist they brought from the airport or rail station in Assam. This is not that I disagree with local employment, it is about how it is trying to be done.  The reality is that a ‘Tourist Taxi’, which is actually a misleading license, it should either be ‘Transport Taxi’ or Tourist Taxi’, the government should not be licensing every vehicle as a Tourist Taxi.  The other reality is that unless you get the government to change the license system, you can’t do it. A Meghalaya driver as does a driver from any state, has the right to have a license to enter 3 States and actually it is called an ‘All India Tourist Taxi’.   The locals should be pushing their service, their abilities in the area, this will in turn bring long term sustainability.  Many of the taxis that we send people out with, Khasi young men, do not have to stand in line for trips to Guwahati or elsewhere anymore.  They mostly get reserved trips, because the word is out, that they are trust worthy, know the area and give a fair price.  This is the path to sustainability.  Not expectations of deserving something.

My third example is villagers charging an entry for everything, charging high prices as guides and charging high prices for stays without giving the service equivalent to the price.   First let’s talk about entries, for me personal, it is a sad way to go.  The concept here is build a bamboo viewpoint, charge.   Charge to walk down to a living root bridge, charge for every entry along the way, including parking etc.  Then forcing you to take a local guide on a village path or destination path.  Now, once again, don’t get me wrong, I am not against making money.  But it is my own pet peeve.  Don’t force a guide: offer a guide and tell the person what the guide will do for you, don’t force an entry fee, but tell the person what you are offering and doing with the intake, and put a donation box – more often than not the Traveler will give a donation exceeding the usual entry fee, if he or she sees the benefit of what you are doing. More often than not he or she will hire a guide if they know the services offered and what it is benefiting.  But when it is a destination that is a village walk, anyways, normally improved by cementing through government schemes, why should a traveler need a guide to walk on that path.  It is the destination at the end of the path that should be offering services that can turn into sustainable income for the people.   Now, if I go to Nongriat or other places,  just to visit friends, I have to convince the locals of that, cause they want to charge me as a tourist, to walk down to the village. 

A Service, a price and a statement of what you will provide for that price is what is appropriate.  Too often we see somebody saying a price and in reality it is just to walk with you, not giving any service.  Then they want to charge a price, not as a set group price – they want to charge individually for every member.  

If a museum or somethings puts a price on the entry, we hope that that means the money is going toward the maintenance of that museum and adding more items, paying employees etc.  But when you see a guide trying to force you to pay a high fee to walk with you and then does not even make an effort to clean the path a little, pick up the garbage or in general maintain the route, it does not make sense.

Or when a village guide charges, he knows very well that if he is a laborer in the village for a day he will get no more than Rs. 400. To 500. For the day, but then when he charges to walk with you for the day it is Rs. 2000. Or 3000.  Where is the logic?  Again don’t get me wrong about making money, but let’s be reasonable..

There is so much I could go on, but this is just a tidbit of my belief of the wrong direction in Tourism in Meghalaya.. 

To end it all in the lodging sector:  You have the high priced resorts, who hopefully provide facilities equivalent to their price, then you have all the people opening supposed ‘Home Stays’, which are actually guest houses not home stays.  But the main point is opening a place or offering a place not equivalent to the service.  No effort to make it look nice, decorating, painting or just in general making it comfortable even in simplicity.   You should not charge a person Rs 500. Per person and not provide anything – at least the basics need to be provided, bed, mattress, clean bath area and clean toilet,  at the very least. As soon as you take a price for a stay, you need to say what you offer for that price.

To end it all ‘Explore the Unexplored’ a favorite term used by many a Travel Agent.  Dear Travel Agent you can’t explore the unexplored if you are promoting it as a set Itinerary Trip.  Exploring the Unexplored should be just that:  no itinerary no objective other than that ‘Explore’.

Let’s wake up and stop selling and allowing the sale just because we are told by some Agent in Delhi, Kolkata or abroad that that is the way it done.  They don’t care about the area and the long term impact of the people they are sending, they are there to make short term money from the next ‘up and coming destination’ and will move on when ‘yours’ is overrun and destroyed.

Morning at MaplePine Bed and Breakfast

We often have visitors arrive, either to come and stay, or just drop by out of curiosity. One of the first questions, after driving on a short 300 metre rough road and seeing a stream to cross, “is this the only way in??” – no of course not “you can always come by helicopter”.

You look around, see a quiet piece of property, don’t see a bridge nor a paved road and you still wonder if there is another way in. Sometimes just accepting is the most freeing privileged of travel, rivaled by no other experience.

If each place you arrive or go to is prepositioned by a wonderment or disturbance of some other offering; the actual experience of that moment has already been lost forever.

The moment the time the place, can only be experienced fully by letting go. We have seen and heard it all: mostly redundant comments that we already know, the words just blow over and we wonder, ‘why are you traveling.??’

Ah, yes we could make it easy to enter or to find. One older gentleman once looked at me and said; “You have an amazing place here, quiet, tranquil and beautiful, but you need to put a Neon sign on the road side’ I leave it at that, my friends. Don’t get lost by the ‘Neon’ sign, for it will not lead you to our place.

Dear Guest:  Many may have heard or wish to stay with us at MaplePine Farm Bed and Breakfast and we welcome you. It is not time yet! We hope to host you in the near future. In the mean time we do ask that you read and acknowledge the following information.

  • First and foremost we are not a Resort we are a Bed and Breakfast..  We run the property our selves with a couple helpers.  We do have other work and are not available at all times.
  • By coming to stay with us you are acknowledging that you understand and respect what we are and what we are doing.
  • BOOKING IS BY EMAIL – cp@culturalpursuits.com you can see all the Cabin Details and what we offer.  If you send and email with all your details, number of persons, ages, ages of children it helps us to make an offer to you.  If you have a preference in Cabins also it helps for us to know.
  • ONE NIGHT STAYS – Please note that as a general rule we are not taking 1 night stays.
  • YOUR DRIVER:  Some Options:  http://maplepine.culturalpursuits.com/vehicle-guides

We are not here to be involved in where you driver is from or his knowledge of the area.  However, once you hire a driver it is your responsibility to deal with anything between him and you, we have no involvement.  That said, it is also your responsibility to make sure he knows where our place is and what our place is about.  We respect all people, however if you do not tell the driver about our place then it becomes difficult for us, many times the driver becomes more demanding that the clients themselves.  If you have booked a driver through a travel agent, please do make sure he knows where our place is and how to get here.

  • YOUR TRAVEL PARTNERS:  Whether your travel partners are family or friends, it is very important for them to also be told about our place.  Each member of the travel group should understand and acknowledge that they understand about our place.
  • GROUPS

We understand traveling with friends, however please do understand why we are hesitant to take persons who say: ‘we are 8 friends who want to come for 1 night’. For us this is an indication that you may not quite understand what we are about.  However, neither do we wish to pre judge you, you may really actually be coming for a get away and a relaxing time, go for a hike etc.  Our history and experience often shows otherwise, so this is why we very specifically say – that we do not have 1 night stays and that groups coming do also have to acknowledge that they understand about our place.  This is not to say we are not against a good time and somehow are against a good time, however if your only goal is to come, drink, get drunk then leave the next morning; with out going into details, we think there may be other places more appropriate for this.

** deciding to accept a 1 night stay is at our discretion.

  • MEALS:  http://maplepine.culturalpursuits.com/meal-options

We offer Dinner between 7 and 8:30…

We have on our website all the food items we offer.  We are not able to offer items beyond this..  We do not keep Maggi, so please do not assume that we do, and arrive hungry and ask us to cook some maggi.

We do not provide lunch in general, but for sure we do not provide lunch on arrival, if by chance we are agreeing to provide lunch on other days, it would have had to be specifically requested and indicated prior to coming and it would normally be Grilled Cheese Sandwich and some tea.

We ask to know ahead of time regarding your first evening meal, if you have any special requirements like no garlic, no onions or something like that, you must tell us prior to arrival.

We also have a choice of a Light Meal or Child Meal, please indicate if this is what you want, the normal meal will be served if not otherwise indicated.

Simple Veg Meals and Non Veg Meals are put out at the time specified by you.  Coming late and possibly eating cold food is your choice.

SPECIAL MEALS: BBQ, ROAST OR KHASI MEAL

These meals are served on a plate, so when you say the time for your meal like 8 pm..  We will start plating at 8 – and put it out nice and hot within 5 minutes.

BREAKFAST:  Breakfast is Complimentary between 6 and 8:15 am, you still do need to let us know the night before what Items you would like and what Time you would like your breakfast..

If you wish to have it after 8:15 we charge Rs. 200. per person for simple breakfast of Toast and Egg with Tea.   This is not because we want your money, it is because we don’t want to do Breakfast after 8:15..

** note this is not our place and we are not taking commission

Booking

You can send a message to – Lakhmie at:  70854 87571 – telling her the number of persons, the makeup of your family/group – ages, married, single number of children etc.  and she will get back to you.  Also do specify the dates you are interested in..

It is Located about 12 Kilometres from Dawki, just off the Dawki Amlarem Road. This is a calm little village surrounded by beautiful valleys, rivers and living root bridges.  Ideal for small families, individuals and groups who understand the concept of getting away from it all, revitalizing and returning to their regular life with a new outlook.

It is not a place to just stay because you have heard it is near to Dawki, this is not about Dawki – it is about its own area.

You have to contact us, discuss your plans and then take a decision on staying – please do not email or phone or message to ask for a place for 6 people tomorrow – it is not possible. 

Traveling a little differently

Some Things about this Home stay:

It has 3 to 4 Beds available in a separate house from the Main House

Simple Toilet (Indian Style) and bath area

Breakfast is simple, and is served at 8 am, unless special request is made otherwise.

Meals (lunch and dinner are simple village meals) – must be told ahead of time as far as preference, non-veg or veg and preferred type of meat. Mostly your choice of meat is chicken.  All meals are cooked the way we cook them, no specific Indian or western dishes.

We do not take arrivals or departures on SUNDAY: – much of the village is Christian and wish to keep Sundays as a rest day, travelers are asked not to arrive or depart on a Sunday.  People staying are welcome to be around the village on a Sunday, even attend a church service if they like; or they go on a hike in the area.  

Drugs and Alcohol – During your stay, please do not use recreational drugs or alcohol in public areas.  You may have your own drink in your room in moderation. Please do not show alcohol or drunkenness outside in the village.

Smoking – Smoking should only be done outside, not in homes.

Pets – Please leave dogs and other pets at home.

Music – Music may be enjoyed with the use of headphones.

Dress – While we have no formal dress code, we ask that you dress modestly.

Roads – Please help keep our roads safe by observing a 20 kmph speed limit.

Hiking – While you are welcome to enjoy the beauty of our area, we ask that you request a guide if going on unmarked or unknown trails, not to pick fruit or flowers without permission, not to swim in rivers without being with a local person, or with a group that knows the area and the currents.

‘Tread softly, lest you destroy that which you so desperately seek.”

PRICES (Till Dec 2019)

Per Bed – with Breakfast Payable   Amount to Administration Fund TOTAL PAYABLE
Rs. 500
  Rs. 75. Rs. 500.
  • Amount given to the Administration Fund, is to the village to do as it feels appropriate.
  • Donations above and beyond are welcome.

We are here to offer you a service based on what we are capable of and within our values.  We ask that you:

Respect our Schedule:

Since we are a small home business without the extra helpers we also have our other work to take care of, as well as a family.  Please show respect for this: timing for meals should be within the times we specify and on time – we don’t have the energy or the time to heat your food then reheat it if you decide to come late.  Any request for extra’s should be done prior to arriving and with an understanding of our capabilities.

Be Personable:  

We in our lives are busy with things, but we will come and greet you and welcome you, even if we may not be able to sit and visit for a long time with each guest.  We ask that you also be courteous and personable.

Bookings:  

You can send a message to – Lakhmie at:  70854 87571 – telling her the number of persons, the makeup of your family/group – ages, married, single number of children etc.  and she will get back to you.  Also do specify the dates you are interested in..

Welcoming you on our terms….

The village:  

Set about 2 km off the main road from Dawki (about 10 km) to Amlarem and Jowai.  This is a quite village in War Jaintia considering its options to host travelers on a limited basis.  Nearby are access to several Living Root Bridges, Great Waterfallsls and ideal camping sites.  The village at the moment will offer limited home stay options (one home at this time), possibility for Camping by the river in season (between October and April).  Guest can only come if they are staying in the village for two nights or more, and with prior booking. Day visits are not encouraged.  

The village is in the very early stages of inviting guests to stay, they are not interested in large scale tourism; however they see the potential opportunities and advantages of small scale tourism.  Therefore they have set up a small committee to oversee and develop these opportunities within their village as well as in partnership with other villages with similar values that are nearby.